Our Favourite Gingerbread Cookies!

Cardamon Spiced Gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread Cookies
Our Favourite Gingerbread Cookies!

These gingerbread cookies are, wow! I don’t share recipes that often, but when I do it’s because they’re soooo good! This one doesn’t disappoint. Many years ago when I was pregnant with our oldest daughter, I took pastry classes in the evenings (something I’ve always wanted to do!) I figured, my spare time was running out quickly, so I took the opportunity before she arrived. The original recipe is from the cookie class but I have since modified it so much to add my own family’s preferences, including adding fresh spices and substituting molasses with piloncillo! My husband doesn’t like ginger and he loves these, so give them a try on your non-ginger-loving friend as well, you might surprise them!

Here is my favorite gingerbread cookies recipe of the most popular Christmas cookies, ever! Soft in the center, crisp on the edges, perfectly spiced for a chai flavour, piloncillo and brown sugar-sweetened holiday goodness. 

Let’s get right into it with a little pre-baking info.

Key Ingredients

Before the full recipe, let me tell you about some of the non-traditional but easy to find ingredients that I use for these gingerbread cookies.

First, piloncillo. Why? I mean, it’s essentially the same as molasses so why not use molasses? For me, simple. Molasses is almost impossible to find in Mexico. And Piloncillo is the raw, solid form of molasses. Piloncillo is a raw form of pure cane sugar that is commonly used in Mexican cooking and is sometimes referred to as Mexican brown sugar. Piloncillo, also known as panela and panocha, can be used in the same way other types of sweeteners are used, so it’s easy to replace molasses with. It dissolves really easily. To get it ready for the cookies, I take a little bit of boiling water and add it to a bowl of crushed piloncillo. In the US and Canada, piloncillo is typically found in cone shaped solids, that you either grate or dissolve in hot water.

Gingerbread Cookies

I used a ratio of 3 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of piloncillo to create a syrup similar to consistency of molasses.

Secondly, cardamon. I love the rich, super nutty flavour of cardamon in almost everything but with these cookies, I feel it mellows out and balances the ginger flavour, which is why I think my husband loves them! I use whole cardamon seeds and grind them down in my grinder. Note, if you have fresh cloves instead of ground, add them to the grinder at the same time as the cardamon. For this recipe, I used 4 cardamon seeds and 6 fresh cloves and added that to the dry ingredients. All the quantities will be written out below again with the full recipe.

Crunch vs. Chew

Whatever side you’re on, this recipe is fairly flexible to your preferred hardness level without burning. I like my gingerbread cookies a little on the harder side but not tooth-breaking hard, but my kids like them chewy so we bake them for about 10min. You’ll notice the hands and feet getting darker and that’s usually our sign that they’re done or will soon be too hard. At around 10min, you get a little crunch and a little chew.

Rolling Out the Cookies

A note about rolling out the dough and cutting out the cookies. I have tried this recipe with many variations and find it can take quite a bit of flour when rolling out the dough for the cutouts, so don’t be afraid to flour your surface and the dough well to make rolling super easy. I like to use a dough cutter and cut ‘slices’ from the chilled dough and roll those out one at a time, just to limit the amount of times I’m taking the cut scraps, rerolling and cutting. Think of it as cutting thick slices from a loaf of bread and then rolling each slice out.

Gingerbread Cookies
Rolling Out Gingerbread Cookies

Rise

With a little bit of baking powder in the recipe, these cookies will puff and lift a little but not expand. Once they’re out of the oven, they’ll settle back down a little but be a little fuller than before their bake.

Decorating / Icing

I like to make these in large batches and then just sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon sugar on top, but of course my girls like the ice them with faces, clothes and funny accessories so I make a really simple lemon glaze with three or four ingredients – lemon juice, icing sugar, cinnamon (optional) and condensed milk that they go crazy with! The recipe for that icing will be below the cookie recipe!

Piloncillo Gingerbread Cookies
Lemon Icing Gingerbread Cookies!

DRY INGREDIENTS:

Go ahead and put them all together in one big bowl as you get them ready!

  • 3 and 1/2 cups (445g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger (feel free to add even more if you want a strong ginger flavour!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (and a bit more for sprinkling later!)

WET INGREDIENTS:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup (150g) light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup (250ml) piloncillo syrup (1 cup piloncillo to 5-6 tablespoons boiling water)… Adjust as needed to get to 1 cup of liquid. If you’re using molasses, the quantity is the same – 1 cup.
  • 1 large egg (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Gingerbread Cookies

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a big bowl. Sift if you add if you can. Place aside while you prepare the wet ingredients.
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the butter and sugar together and using a stand or hand mixer (I use my Osler Heat Soft Hand Mixer as it gives off a warm heat into the butter so it creams faster. Mix until combined. Then add in the piloncillo syrup or molasses. Mix for another 2-3 minutes until the butter and sugar cream and lighten.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix slowly for another 30 seconds to minute to combine.
  4. Add the dry flour mixture in batches and mix to combine. Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface and mold quickly into a rectangular shape and place into a ziplock bag or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1.5 hours, or longer. The dough will stiffen and be easier to roll out.
  5. Once out of the fridge, flour your work surface and roll out your doll with a floured rolling pin to about 1/4-inch thick.
  6. Preheat Oven to 350C (180F)
  7. Cut out your favourite shapes. Roll up the scraps and re-roll, adding some flour to the top and bottom of your dough to prevent sticking. I find this recipe can take quite a bit of flour added at this stage to make rolling and cutting easier, especially if you’ve got little hands flying around tossing dough and flour!
  8. Place your cookies onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 8-12 min. Our happy spot is 9-10min, as we like them on the softer size but you’ll have to find yours!
  9. Let your cookies dry before adding icing.
Mixing Cookie Dough
The dough, just after its mixed and ready to be chilled.

ICING RECIPE:

  1. 2 cups of icing sugar
  2. 1/4 condensed milk.
  3. Juice of 1-2 lemons (start with one and add slowly so you don’t over dillute your icing).
  4. 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Combine and place into a piping bag or squeeze bottle and get ready to decorate! Make sure your icing is thick enough that it’ll spread or come through your piping bag but avoid it getting too wet or it won’t set. You want your icing to be thick enough to stay for a few seconds on an upside-down spoon before dripping off, but not too hard that it doesn’t move and be too stiff to glaze with. If you get this right, the icing will dry nicely on the cookies like a soft glaze.

For a more sophisticated look or for those that don’t like icing, you can sprinkle your cookies with a combination of brown sugar, cinnamon and icing sugar. Thats what I do for the ones I devour!

Can’t wait for you to try this one at home! Happy baking!

If you’re new here, I’m Donata Delano. I’m a professional artist and architect but what you probably don’t know is that many years ago I went to culinary school for pastry. I love being in the kitchen, cooking and baking with our little girls. For me cooking is very similar to painting. Creating something that brings someone else joy is the ultimate happy place for me. If you want to level up your kitchen and find some of the tools I use, follow the links below:

Mortar and Pestle

Dough Scraper

Osler Heat Soft Hand Mixer

Wooden Rolling Pin

Gingerbread Cookie Cutters

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